How Do You Know What to Sell? #EveryoneStartsAtZero

Guided Learning by Mark on Fullback and Friends | Day 2: Customer Relationships – How Do You Know What to Sell?

Ok so you are just starting out or you want to take your business to the next level.  What’s the first thing you need to do?

Think of a product to sell; get a logo designed; build a website; open a new shop or spend hours producing an all singing all dancing business plan?

Whilst they are obviously important I don’t think any of these things are the first thing you need to do.  The first thing I think you need to do is to BUILD A LIST.  In fact the biggest thing you need to do throughout your business journey is to build a list and keep building it.

A simple list?  You’re having a laugh right?  What’s on this list?

The list is a list of YOUR CUSTOMERS.  It can be a list of emails; a list of telephone numbers; in electronic format or on paper.  It doesn’t really matter.  You just need a list of customers and their direct contact details.

Why?  Why not think of a product first?

Put simply you need someone to sell to.  You need a market.  Thinking of a specific product to sell isn’t the first step.  You need someone that wants your product and a way of making an offer to that person.  You can’t make an offer if you don’t know who they are; where they are or what’s important to them.

But more importantly – it’s not really about the list, it’s about the RELATIONSHIPS you have with people on that list.  Selling is about relationships.  Having a relationship with your customers or potential customers is the biggest and best way to answer the question ‘What should I sell?’.  You can ask them or research their needs.

If you want to answer the question ‘How Do You Know What to Sell?’ – identify your customer first; establish what they need most and sell it to them.  Solve their problems.  All successful selling is based on establishing a need first.  I’d like to make business more complicated than that but I can’t.  If you’ve been in business for a long time you’ll really identify with this.  Sometimes when we get stuck or are looking to grow we forget the basics.  Check out Caine’s Arcade again.  He really understood his customer’s needs and went out of his way to build an arcade for them.  It was easy for him because he was a customer too.  He loved arcades.  This really brings us to another question ‘Should you sell something you love?’

I’m not sure.  I think you should love what you sell and love what you do.  However I’ve always gone against common start up advice and said don’t start a business based on a hobby.  Obviously everyone is different but say for example you love flowers or gardening.  You love to wind down and relax with flowers.  Don’t become a florist.  Don’t sell flowers.  There’s a massive difference between pottering to a flower shop and getting up at 5am to get the best flowers from a supplier.  Working late (or is that early) to get flowers ready for a customer’s wedding.  Your experience of it changes.  You can often start hating the thing you loved.  It’s better to sell something that’s ‘Important to You’.

What Is Important To You?  motivational quote written on red road sign isolated over clear blue sky background. Concept  image with available copy space

This leads me to a very simple exercise I consistently use to establish what to sell.

I start with my customers and brainstorm ‘What’s important to them?’.   If you don’t have any yet use imaginary customer profiles and do internet based research.  There’s so much info you can find online.

Then I brainstorm ‘What’s important to me?’

At some point the answer will be exactly the same.  Never fails.  This is when you can start looking at a product to sell.

Give it a try.  If you’re struggling send a message via The Journal or comment below.  I’ll help you.

To recap the best thing to do to work out what to sell is to:

  1. Build a list of Your Customers (existing or potential)
  2. Establish ‘What’s Important to Your Customers?’ (ask or research them)
  3. Establish ‘What’s Important to You?’
  4. Where your customer’s needs and what you want to sell match – create a product

4 simple steps.

By the way I would add one final step.  Once you create a product just check the market is big enough.  I’ll probably talk about that another day though.

5 simple steps.

To help you more and give you inspiration I’ve curated a set of Guided Learning Links that explore this topic further.  Check out the links and add your answers to The Journal.  If you’re new and not sure how to use the Guided Learning then please read our FAQS at:


Guided Learning Links



Why is it important to specialise in selling just one thing?

Why do you think it is important to have a list of customers?

Why is it important to have a very targeted list of customers?

Why is it important to “start now and improve as you go”?

Why do you think it is important to establish your customer’s needs before you “sell” them anything?


Guided Learning Journal

Submit your answers and any questions you have using the following link:

Add to the Journal


Look out for ‘Be Amazing, Serve the Customers You Have (Your Store, Your Way)’ at 5pm tomorrow.


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